Prescription Drug Plan Gains Support

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Seniors are looking more favorably on the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The positive shift in attitudes is the first since the foundation began tracking views on the drug benefit in February 2004.

The recent survey found that 32% of the 1200 respondents views the drug benefit favorably, and an equal percentage views it unfavorably. The remaining 36% said that they did not have enough information to give an opinion. The Medicare prescription drug program takes effect January 1, 2006. Approximately 43 million beneficiaries will be able to select from 2 or more private plans that offer drug coverage.

Although government officials have been touting the drug benefit, and Congress has set aside $300 million in an awareness campaign, the survey shows that more work is needed. Of the respondents, more than two thirds said that they understood the benefit "not too well" or "not well at all." Only 31% said that they understood the benefit "very well" or "somewhat well." When polled about whether they would enroll in a Medicare drug plan, 33% of the seniors said no. About 22% said that they would enroll, and 40% said that they needed more information before making a decision.